CONVERGED INFRASTRUCTURE: Making the Move From Buzzword to Big Hit in SMB

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1 CONVERGED INFRASTRUCTURE: Making the Move From Buzzword to Big Hit in SMB

2 CONVERGED INFRASTRUCTURE CONTENTS Introduction Does converged infrastructure have an identity problem? Bringing converged infrastructure from the enterprise to the mini-prise What to look for when you re looking A viable alternative to business as usual About egroup by egroup Inc. All rights reserved. 482 Wando Park Blvd. Mt. Pleasant, SC eGroup.1 ( ) egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure

3 INTRODUCTION Converged infrastructure has a bright future in small and midsize organizations, as it provides an approach that can consolidate hardware components, simplify management and reduce IT overhead. But adoption has been sluggish, in part due to some hurdles that are keeping it from taking its rightful place in the server closet of today s SMBs: Some IT pros aren t exactly sure what the phrase converged infrastructure means. To some of them, it comes across as a marketing buzzword. Some IT pros who are familiar with converged infrastructure may see it as purely an enterprise solution and therefore not something that they have any business looking into. value to their department, to their users, or to the business as a whole. Some IT pros are also dealing with budget limitations and competing priorities that are preventing them from giving converged infrastructure a fair shake. Do any of those sound like you? If so, this paper can help. We ll get to the heart of the matter, addressing each of these aspects in turn. We ll also bring in the thoughts and experiences of industry experts and IT pros alike, providing perspectives and use cases that paint a clearer picture of converged infrastructure and its potential to positively impact the organization. Thanks to a survey of SMB IT pros conducted by Spiceworks in August 2013, this paper will also provide insights into how converged infrastructure is being used today in organizations just like yours. This survey captured current usage and implementation plans of more than 300 IT pros in North America, the vast majority of which are in organizations with less than 1000 employees. This data allows us to take a closer look at how converged infrastructure is working and making a difference to real IT pros in SMB. egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 3

4 Does converged infrastructure have an identity problem? When it comes to understanding converged infrastructure, the SMB IT pros who responded to the Spiceworks survey are basically split down the middle: 51% have at least some familiarity with it, and 49% are not familiar with it at all. Look closely and you ll see that only 8% consider themselves very familiar with the technology. But for those who are familiar with it, what exactly are they referring to? Converged infrastructure Allen Bernard. 1 Regardless of the lingo, the idea is the same: roll compute, storage and networking center. That way, it s up and running in hours or days, not weeks or months. egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 4

5 Does converged infrastructure have an identity problem? of computing, storage and networking hardware and software. 2 industry generally agrees that all converged infrastructures share a few basic features they confusion around the term that has led some IT pros to unfairly characterize converged infrastructure as a marketing buzzword and dismiss its potential value to the organization. helping IT pros solve real problems. And if IDC s estimates are to be believed, overall spending on converged systems is set to increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 50%. 3 The use of converged systems as an alternative to traditional procurement and delivery models will continue to be one of the most important developments in the evolution of IT infrastructure market, says Jed Scaramella, research manager in IDC s Server Group. 3 providers alike will rely heavily on suppliers to offer converged systems, which encapsulate server, infrastructure. egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 5

6 Bringing converged infrastructure from the enterprise to the mini-prise Converged infrastructure has long been viewed as an enterprise solution, so how do we know that it belongs in SMB? Because it s already there, making a difference in organizations across a wide range of industries. CIO s Bernard agrees: The sweet spot for converged infrastructure will probably be small and midsized enterprises with a limited IT staff but a base of demanding constituents who need new services and applications on a regular basis. 1 The Spiceworks survey shows that 24% of IT pros who are familiar with converged infrastructure are already using it, and another 23% report that they are planning to within the next two years. In other words, nearly half of these SMB IT pros either have already pressed converged infrastructure into service or intend to. These numbers show that, while adoption remains sluggish in SMB due to infrastructure is still on a growth course. Other IT pros are following in the footsteps of the early adopters who have seen the value of this approach in their own organizations. And what are these SMBs doing with their converged infrastructures? Customers are deploying converged systems to accommodate a wide range of workloads, said Christian Perry, senior analyst with Technology Business Research. 2 He adds, Our research shows that data-centric workloads, including databases, will be heavy drivers of this market as it continues to grow. The Spiceworks research bears this out. Organizations are primarily using converged infrastructure for databases, but it turns out they re also using it for a long and diverse list of workloads everything from and collaboration suites to virtual desktop infrastructure. egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 6

7 Bringing converged infrastructure from the enterprise to the mini-prise (cont.) Vendors of converged infrastructure solutions are catching on that SMB is a huge and largely untapped market, and that these solutions can deliver just as much value to the mini-prise as they do to the enterprise if not more so. As a result, the marketplace is offering more and more solutions tailored to SMBs in terms of capacity, performance, and price point. servers and Catalyst switches, and VMware software. Says Charles Babcock, editor at large at InformationWeek, The smaller Vblocks are integrated racks of servers, storage and networking for remote egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 7

8 The bottom-line benefits of converged infrastructure When SMB IT pros look at converged infrastructure and ask, What s in it for me? they ll be met with a long list of answers, including faster deployment, streamlined support, lower operating costs, and better performance all things that can make a difference to the bottom line for SMBs. The majority of IT pros surveyed by Spiceworks cited infrastructure optimization, faster infrastructure offers. How do these advantages affect the bottom line? improving application performance as well as reducing administrative headaches. Faster deployment means users get faster access to the tools they need to do their jobs and businesses get new offerings out into the market more rapidly. quickly, with minimal impact to business operations. It all adds up to business value, which is why 88% of the IT pros familiar with converged infrastructure indicated that converged infrastructure is a valuable solution for their organization. As CIO s Bernard puts it, If IT is really about supporting the business, then converged infrastructure is appealing, if for nothing else than for not reinventing the wheel, but selling it attached to a car instead. 1 egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 8

9 The bottom-line benefits of converged infrastructure Of course there are still concerns swirling among many SMB IT pros. Some, for example, are multivendor infrastructure can provide. But converged infrastructure doesn t mean that you have only and backup products with your choice of virtualization, server, and network technology from components into one solution that enables one of the most important advantages of converged infrastructure the single point of contact for support. Another top concern is that IT pros have less control over individual components with a converged individual components yourself. egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 9

10 What to look for when you re looking As converged infrastructure becomes less of a buzzword and more of a building block for meeting SMB infrastructure needs, more IT pros will be hitting the virtual streets, looking for information on what goes into a successful solution and what to look for in a converged infrastructure vendor. How does the vendor s pricing compare to other vendors? What s the vendor s track record with regard to solution performance and quality? What service level guarantees and customer support options does the vendor offer? compliance? What s the vendor s reputation in the market? When choosing a vendor for a converged infrastructure solution, the IT pros in the Spiceworks survey look at a handful of considerations, but the topmost consideration is implementation cost. Because budget is necessarily top-of-mind for most organizations in SMB, it makes perfect sense that implementation cost would head the list of considerations for IT pros. But it s also important to look at other aspects of cost, including total cost of ownership, or TCO. For example, how do the operating costs of converged infrastructure compare to those of individual infrastructure components? What s the cost savings for IT in terms of administrative overhead? What cost savings does the solution enable as a result of consolidation and integration? egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 10

11 What to look for when you re looking These are the types of questions IT pros need to be able to answer, along with identifying the many advantages the technology stands to offer their organization. Customers are wild about it, says Andrew Neff, a Gartner vice president and investment analyst in the Technology and Service Provider Group. 1 But, he adds, The focus of the customer at the end of the day is TCO. sure it s going to meet the unique needs of your organization: Does the solution have a single management console? Does the solution consolidate upgrades, patching, and other management tasks? How well does the solution scale? Is there a single point of support for the solution? When evaluating converged infrastructure solutions, the IT pros in the Spiceworks survey indicated environments, where every infrastructure investment has to deliver over the long term. Second to that was workload optimization, which speaks to the universal need for high application performance and low administrative overhead. Of course, as you go through the process of evaluating converged infrastructure solutions, it s always important to make sure you re comparing apples to apples in terms of feature set, performance and criteria will make it easier to identify a solution you ll be happy with over the long term. egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 11

12 A viable alternative to business as usual offers to SMB organizations is real. That s why industry analysts and IT experts are predicting such strong growth in the months and years ahead. Despite current confusion around offerings and ongoing competition for IT budgets and priorities, converged infrastructure has reached a tipping point. Data infrastructure remains one of the top cost centers at most businesses, and it may be an 5 Converged infrastructure offers a low-cost, scalable alternative to the current state of affairs. But when doing the due diligence that these decisions require, IT pros should take the opportunity deployment, easier management, lower operating costs, and improved performance, converged infrastructure is making believers out of IT pros in SMB. egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 12

13 ABOUT egroup Headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., egroup provides innovative cloud, application, and enduser computing services to businesses across the Southeast. One of the region s fastest growing 250, egroup s solutions drive customer revenue while reducing cost to maintain IT infrastructures. ( ) for more information. 1 Bernard, Allen, Is Converged Infrastructure the Future of the Data Center? CIO, March 19, Preimesberger, Chris, Converged Infrastructure Spending to Hit $3.8B by 2014: Survey, eweek, July 31, IDC, Worldwide Converged Systems Forecast: Adoption Fueled by Faster Time-to-Market Demands, November InformationWeek, February 25, egroup-us.com Converged Infrastructure 13

Converged Infrastructure: Making the Move From Buzzword to Big Hit in SMB

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